Kenneth Grahame, in his classic tale, The Wind in the Willows, does a masterful job of explaining Mole’s first glimpse of a river in springtime.
Never in his life had he seen a river before – this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again.
This blissful, well imagined, first impression came to mind as I listened to Neal tell me about his vision of Heaven. Why? Because the good doctor was telling me of his love of boating, an activity he undertakes with family and friends whenever he has the chance. Skimming the surface of a gurgling and laughing body of water, as cares fall away, does sound quite heavenly.
Water figures in many of the Bible stories we’ve all grown up with. Jesus always had full command of the water. He put water into the void, separated the Red Sea for the Israelites, turned the Nile to blood, symbolically cleanses us with it in baptism, and calmed the raging sea that so terrified His disciples. It’s dynamic stuff
Neal owns seven vintage boat motors dating back to the1920’s. Some have been given to him and some he has purchased. Perhaps a vintage boat is waiting to enjoy with each one as in – In my Father’s house there are many speed boats – no, wait. Anyway, as he cruises along Neal will be waving at the grandparents he longs to see and I’ll bet a boat ride will be the order of the day. “Hop aboard, folks, glad to see you!”
“You’ve heard the joke, haven’t you?”
I hadn’t. So Pastor Jim launched into it for me.
Upon arriving at the Pearly Gates the young man learned that there would be a baseball game. On earth this guy was a devotee of this sport, loved the Atlanta Braves in fact, and was pleased as punch to hear this. It seemed as though every dream he’d ever had about eternal life was about to be realized.
“But there’s good news and bad news,” cautioned St. Peter.
“Oh?” said the young man who couldn’t imagine any bad news about baseball – At All! His face was a question mark as he stared back at Pete.
“The good news is, the game goes on for eternity,” Pete said with a grin. And then, “The bad news is, you’re pitching, starting tomorrow.”
Har, har! There are probably some who think this would be a more fitting scenario in a place known for it’s fiery dens rather than cool drinks under the palm trees. But to Pastor Jim Heaven is baseball. An endless game where each side scores one run per inning. I could get nothing more from the man, but there’s always a knowing smile when he tells of this Heavenly game.
What could that be about? What is baseball like? Hmmm - let's see.
Jesus as perfect coach, one who occasionally steps in to pitch for the feeble, inept players who might find themselves staring from the pitchers mound at say, Derek Jeeter or even Babe Ruth. Um – that would be me, the inept bumbler worried about breaking a nail – or my neck. Some stepping in would definitely be called for and much appreciated.
The game might operate as a float pool of sorts. Yeah – where a person could jump into the fray and give it their all – maybe even be the one to score the run for that inning. How cool would that be? No need to be in the game for eternity, but stop by now and then, have a hot dog and enjoy a cool drink under the palm trees. Raise your hand if you’d like to sign up for the float pool. You’re pitching starting tomorrow.
Gathering these thoughts and feelings about what awaits once we shed this earthly coil has been fun and enlightening. Next week, Holy week, it’s my turn.
See you here?